A thundering boom echoed through the cave system as Zoey fired her boosted handgun. The enhanced magical slug impacted the Rank 2 Armafrost's head and blew it wide open, dropping the creature with not even a squeal. The power of the modified 9mm Custom and Mk1 Prototype Armament combined was a force to be reckoned with.
Zoey collected the essence stone from the dead creature and continued on her way, eager to find more. She only needed two more Essence stones before she had enough to rank up, and she was excited to get to the next stage. That day the creatures of the cave system were terrified by the sound of several more air-shaking booms that echoed through the caves. The culprit was of course Zoey and her gun hunting more Armafrost.
By the end of the day she finally had the essence stones she needed; four Armafrost stones and one Wing Shadow Bat stone. Aside from getting to Rank 3, she would no doubt also get two new runes from the new essence types when she absorbed them. Her Ability Assimilation had proved to be invaluable to her when it came to increasing her strength. Now that she had what she needed, she headed back the way she came, making her way towards the surface through the labyrinth of caves. Zoey spent the night in the huge cavern she had traveled through earlier. She did not absorb any of the essence stones she had, as she didn't want to be exposed with no protection. Instead she simply enjoyed the sights and sounds of the underground biome as she caught a few hours of sleep. Once she was rested she continued on her way topside.
By evening she had made it back to Nito's house. Her friend welcomed her back and eagerly questioned her on her hunting trip. Nito was once again amazed by the sheer effectiveness of Zoey. He was certain no other living person could claim hunting five rank 2 creatures in two days while they themselves were Rank 2. A Rank 3 might be able to pull it off if they had a good Heritage and innate talent, but Zoey was something special.
After she caught Nito up with her adventure, Zoey settled in an brought out all the essence stones she would need to complete the rank up. She had four Rank 2 Ice Venom Sky Snake stones, four more from the Rank 2 Armafrost, and one from the Rank 2 Wing Shadow Bat. In total she had nine essence stones, and with the one from the Null Stalker she had absorbed in the dungeon, the total would be ten.
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She was ready to begin. She first selected the Wing Shadow Bat essence stone and entered her inner space. Her essence lake was as tranquil as always with the small spaling still standing in the center as always. She had the strange feeling something was watching her, but she could not tell what it was or where the feeling came from. She decided to ignore the feeling for now and began the process.
"UNKNOWN ESSENCE SOURCE DETECTED
The mechanical voice she assumed was from her Dark Star Runic Blood innate talent once again echoed in her mind as she new essence started flowing in to the lake. She decided that she would absorb all the essence stones before she did anything else. Getting the longer part out of the way first would let her focus on her abilities after.
So she continued to absorb the essence stones one after the other. After the Wing Shadow Bat, then the four Armafrost stones, and finally the remaining four Ice Venom Sky Snake stones. She had no sense of time while she was absorbing the essences, but it didn't seem to be very long, just somewhat tedious as she had nothing to do while it happened.
As the last bit of essence flowed into the lake, Zoey was shaken out of her trance by the loud mechanical sound that roared to life inside her mind. Like the gears of an ancient engine groaning to life, the sound was long and loud. At the same time, in the depths of her essence lake, the deep blue core that signified her Gaia Human Heritage lit up like a beacon piercing upwards directly underneath the sapling on the lake.
The blue light refracted onto the petrified, crystalline surface of the sapling and rays of light reflected in every direction creating a beautiful mirage of blue on the lake. Immediately after, the molten red at the bottom of the essence lake erupted upwards in the same fashion. This was the representation of her Dark Star Runic Heritage, and when the red light it gave off shone onto the sapling, the fusion of the red and blue created an amazing fusion of color that danced across the surface of the lake in red, blue, and purple rays.
Zoey's essence lake began to rotate like a cyclone around the sapling in the center, with all the different essences and colors from her Heritages creating a rainbow mirage of colors that danced and reflected through her inner world. As all this was taking place, Zoey noticed that the sapling in the center of her essence lake was actually growing in size! The trunk grew thicker and the branches started spreading out over the lake while the roots beneath the surface spread further into the depths. Right before her eyes, the sapling grew into a tall young tree.
As the mechanical sound faded away and the lights from the bottom of the lake faded, Zoey realized that she had made it to Rank 3! Her essence lake was bigger and deeper, and she could feel the powerful surge of her magic essence flowing through her body. She was no longer Rank 2, and she was one step closer to where she needed to be to hide her Gaia Human Heritage from detection.
The next time she encountered anyone coming after her heritage because of some harmonic bullcrap, she wouldn't be running from them. She would seize her fate with her own strength!